Sunday, January 31, 2010

FOSSILS calendar of events for 2010 -- the 20th anniversary year.

As hard as it may be to believe, 2010 is the 20th anniversary of FOSSILS, the Fermenters of Special Southern Indiana Libations Society. The club, a homebrewing and beer appreciation society, has been a true bulwark in metro Louisville's movement for better beer. It was founded on September 30, 1990, in the room that eventually became Rich O's Public House. The story is far longer than I have time to tell today, but perhaps in the coming months, some of the long history of FOSSILS can be recounted here. In the interim, a brief club calendar for 2010 follows.

2010 Calendar, by the FOSSILS Secretary, Joe Bray

January 9th- Funky & Pungent Competition
February 13 - Joe Bray's Presentation on Web-based Brew tools
March 13 - Dave Pierce presentation at NABC Bank Street Brewery
April 10 - MysteryBrew
May 8 - Presidents Choice
June (TBD) - Campout/Picnic
17-19 - NHC in Minneapolis
July 9-10 - Indiana State Fair
17 - Regular Meeting
August 14 - Officer Nominations
September 11 - Brewfood Competition, Officer Presentations
30 - FOSSILS Anniversary Party
October 9 - Craft Raffle Meeting, Officer Elections
Various Member Halloween Parties
November 13 - Porter Competition
December 11 - Christmas Party

Friday, January 29, 2010

Bank Street Brewhouse receives DNA Pillar Award.

I'd like to thank Develop New Albany, our city's non-profit Indiana Main Street organization, for awarding Bank Street Brewhouse a Pillar Award at the annual DNA meeting on Thursday night.

Horizon Award: This category recognizes a new or emerging in existence for five years or less. The award went to the Bank Street Brewhouse.

NABC's original location on the New Albany's north side was determined by chance and serendipity. Bank Street Brewhouse's site downtown was picked because it is downtown, in large measure stemming from ideas and principles that we share with DNA and the Main Street ethos. In my mind, we're using the city as the city was intended, and helping to revitalize it according to urban realities.

The beer and food are the most important aspects, but the street address is a close third.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The patio at Bank Street is wrapped.






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How do you get to better beer? Education, education, education.

Education is vital to the expansion of the better beer perimeter.

To me, it’s axiomatic. One may come to better beer without knowing much about the brewing method, beers styles, geography, history and culture, and that’s perfectly fine.

However, the more one knows about these matters, the greater the possibilities. Enjoying a flavor is the starting point. Knowing who, why and wherefore helps to place the flavor in context. Beer education provides the back story, and helps to grow the love and to expand the savvy of the consumer. It transforms casual adherents into torchbearers. I believe in it wholeheartedly.

These days, I’m in the position of devoting much time to selling the products of my own brewery, and both understandably and financially, I’m bullish about NABC. At the same time, I’m determined not to neglect the mandate to educate about beer – all beer, and not just ours. My goal has always been to act as fair broker for information about the whole world of better beer, hence my twice monthly columns in LEO and quarterly contributions to Food & Dining, not to mention daily blogging, facebooking and tweeting. Questions? I'll answer them if I can, and if I can't, I'll try to point in the right direction.

Thus, the good news: February’s “Here’s to Beer” class has 15 students, by far the largest enrollment in this, the third running of the IU Southeast continuing education course. Both the university and the Publican are ecstatic. The class begins on Wednesday, February 3, and will be repeated in April, so if you missed it this time around, another chance is coming. Class dates for April are the 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th, all Wednesdays, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and at the NABC Pizzeria & Public House, 3312 Plaza Drive (just off Grant Line Road) in New Albany. Contact IU Southeast for registration information.

More good news: I’ll be delivering a talk on beer to the Irish Society in Louisville on Tuesday, February 2. It is entitled, "Themes in Irish Beer and Brewing." There will be elements of beer in a general sense, with an obvious focus on the Anglo-Irish experience, and an effort to provide at least a partial answer to the question: Irish and German immigration occurred roughly simultaneously, and as such, why did the German brewing tradition take hold in America, and not the Irish?

Because of these two commitments next week, there’ll be a slight delay in the advent of Office Hours with the Publican. There’s just no time to get this off the ground on February 1, so instead, I’m moving it back a week to an inaugural date and time of Monday, February 8, 6:30 p.m. in the Prost area of the Public House.

Office Hours is intended as an hour-long weekly skull session with samples, freewheeling and self-contained, with a modest sampling charge for participants and the opportunity to eat and drink before, during and after the session. Some topics will be announced, while at other times, the topic of the night will be determined on the fly. Expect occasional guest speakers and impromptu entertainment. We’ll have fun, then see where Office Hours goes after a couple of months on the air.

Finally, it is my hope that there can be more one-off classes like “Porters: A History of the Style” at the Liquor Barn last December, and in conjunction with these educational considerations, I’ve commenced the (as it turns out) Herculean task of reformatting the Public House beer program and converting the beer list to reference by style rather than national origin – not an original thought by any stretch, but a necessary one. In doing this, I’m using style definitions from the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP), which in turn are used in Cicerone training.

Education can be tiring. Is it time for a beer?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

C1 and Old Man at Kentucky BBQ Company this Friday, January 29.

Kegs of C1 Collaboration Ale continue to be released amid gala spectacles throughout metropolitan Louisville.

Next up: C1 & Old Man Live @ KYBBQ Co., which begins at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, January 29 at the Kentucky Barbecue Company on Frankfort Avenue in Louisville. Last summer, I had a great night there: "Mug Shots" today in LEO: "Revisiting the BBQ + craft beer equation."

There is a Facebook page with information on the January 29 gig.

C1 won't be around long, so consider a visit.

Photos of the C1 Collaboration Ale releases at Flanagan's and the Nachbar.

I can't be bothered to take too many photos with a beer in each hand, and so there are just three views of last evening's shindigs. They were quite good, and C1 is a beer to remember ... so then, why don't I?



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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Calendar check: 5th Annual Keg Liquors Fest of Ale is Saturday, June 5.

Follow the bouncing link to the Facebook page for the 2010 Keg Liquors Fest of Ale. It will be the fifth edition of the fest, and will take place on Saturday, June 5 at 3:00 p.m. at St. Anthony's of Padua in Clarksville.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Gravity Head 2010: Updated, with NABC's contingent.

I'm guessing this will be the next-to-last Gravity Head update. Read further to learn about the final pieces of this year's puzzle.

Bell’s HopSlam
American Double/Imperial IPA … 10%

NABC V – 5th Anniversary Ale 2007
American Strong Ale … 10%

NABC Malcolm’s Old Setters’ Ale 2007
Old Ale … 12%

NABC Oaked Le Douche Mentale (firkin)
Belgian IPA … 8.5%

NABC ThunderFoot 2009
Russian Imperial Stout … 11%

I am awaiting three final updates. On the imported side of the ledger, information is on the way from B. United International. One or two surprises may reside within the communique. Meanwhile, NABC's chief collaborationist, Jared Williamson, has spoken to his brewing friends at Mattingly Brewing Company in St. Louis. And, there'll be an as-yet-unknown beer from Three Floyds Brewing Company.

Other than those, foraging is pretty much finished, and I've updated the list here:

Preview: Gravity Head 2010, beginning Friday, February 26.

More details about the Flanagan's C1 tapping on Tuesday, January 26.

Ashley's posting at the Louisville Restaurants Forum goes into greater detail as to what Flanagan's has in mind for tomorrow's C1 Collaboration Ale tapping.

C1 Launch Party with Schlafly, NABC, O'Fallon

C1 Collaboration Ale's tappings in Louisville on Tuesday: Flanagan's, Nachbar.

Over at Mojo, food and drinks blogger Steve Coomes offers a fine paean to local brewing creativity, celebrating Tuesday's C1 Collaboration Ale release at Flanagan's, and pointing toward Jerry Gnagy's White Porter at Bluegrass Brewing (St. Matthews).

Flanagan's pouring NABC's C1 collaborative brew

Also note that later the same evening, at 10:00 p.m., it will be
Nachbar's turn at pouring C1.

Special election tonight: NABC Hoptimus vs. Bell's HopSlam.

It's time for the special election: Vote early and often as two heavyweights, NABC Hoptimus and Bell's HopSlam go toe to toe tonight at the Pizzeria & Public House. It's simple. Try each, and vote for your favorite. Your ballot also is an entry form, and at the end of the evening, we'll draw for a $20 NABC gift card.

This year, we have only two HopSlam kegs in stock: One for tapping tonight, and one at Gravity Head 2010. How long will this one last? It's a tough call, but I'd guess perhaps three days, although it's possible that emptying comes sooner.

Note: No growlers of HopSlam! Sorry, but it's only fair. Hoptimus, on the other hand ...

From Capriole Farms: "We know our customers, because we are our customers."

Is there any more renowned artisanal product from Floyd County than Capriole Farmstead Goat Cheeses? I can only wish that some day, NABC is recognized for excellence in brewing in the way that Capriole sets the standard for cheese making.

The text reprinted here is from Judy Schad, and was included in Capriole's most recent e-newsletter. It is a concise statement of principle from a craft producer, and something that all of us can seek to emulate in our own fields.

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Thanks for 2009 . . . hello 2010

We want to thank all of you who have supported us this past year--a tough one for many of us. After years milking goats and making cheese, we seriously wondered if we would be here at the end of the year, and if a small, specialty cheese company like ours could really survive the downturn and economic crunch?

At the end of the 2009, we were comforted to see that the worrying, belt tightening, and planning had paid off. Thanks to you, we're still here.

Our niche has always been that we do it all here on the farm, from tilling and harvesting the fields to raising our own animals, from using only our own quality milk to hand crafting the very best cheeses we can at an affordable, sustainable price. This makes us very different from large companies who can order milk from other producers. The farm and creamery are a demanding circle where every piece impacts the next one and the one after that. We must stay small enough to maintain this fragile continum in this very special place. If we have too many animals, make too many different cheeses, tax the land beyond what it can sustain for future generations, it fails. There is no place for greed in this equasion. We must give back what we take out.

This coming year we're working with the Natural Resouce and Conservation Service to plant wetland strips to control environmental impact from waste and run-off. We're also planning some meat products to utilize young, cull animals that can't make it in the dairy herd. At the same time we'll continue to be monitored by Certified Humane, who are stringent in their requirements but affirm our own years of practice. All these things are very important to our customers, but, most of all, to us.

In 2010 we will reaffirm what we've known since we began milking goats and making cheese over 22 years ago. We know our customers, because we are our customers.

Sincerely,

Judy Schad, Capriole

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bank Street Brewhouse today: It's my blog, and I'll shill if I want to.

Be reminded that Bank Street Brewhouse keeps Sunday hours. We're open today, serving the usual design-your-own Bloody Mary Bar as I write, and prepping for the Colts vs. Jets later this afternoon.

Josh has Asian Wings on the menu, and NABC beers on tap include Abzug, Beak's Best, Bob's Old 15-B, Bonfire of the Valkyries, C1 Collaboration Ale, Community Dark, Elector, Elsa von Horizon, Hoptimus, Malcolm's Old Setter's Ale, Old Lightning Rod and ThunderFoot.

A final reminder: There's no other place anywhere to enjoy C1 during the games.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

C-J Dish handoff.

Here is a weekend FYI: With Steve Coomes off to Mojo, Dana McMahan is now the author of Dish, the C-J's weekly compendium of food and drink news and notes. Today's topics include the phenomenon of local restaurants on Twitter, including Bank Street Brewhouse.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Gravity Head 2010: Another update.

Here is a Gravity Head update. Still outstanding are NABC's contributions, a probable Three Floyds, and (maybe) an import or two. I'm checking on all these and will try to have the list finalized in the next few days.

Complete list, updated January 22: Preview: Gravity Head 2010, beginning Friday, February 26.

Founders Double Trouble
American Double / Imperial IPA … 9.4%

Two Brothers Red Eye Coffee Porter
American Porter … 9.2%

Mad River Serious Madness
American Strong Ale … 8.6%

Sun King Cream Dream
American Strong Ale … Circa 8.5%

BBC (St. Matthews) Kick in the Baltic Porter 2009
Baltic Porter … 8.9%

Brugge Brasserie Artemis 2IPA
Belgian IPA … 9.5%

Thursday, January 21, 2010

C1 Collaboration Ale (cask-conditioned) firkin tapping is 6:00 p.m. tonight at Bank Street Brewhouse.

Tonight's the night for the Louisville area debut of C1 Collaboration Ale, the first release in series of collaboration beers brewed by Schlafly, O'Fallon and New Albanian. C1 is an Oak-aged, Dry-hopped Smoked Rye Pale Ale.

At 6:00 p.m., NABC's Jared Williamson will tap a firkin of cask-conditioned C1 at the Bank Street Brewhouse in downtown New Albany. According to NABC brand manager John Campbell, tonight's event "is the official C1 Release Party and will kick-off a series of rolling release events throughout Indiana and Louisville."

For more information about tonight's event and the ones to follow, click through to Facebook.

Growlers on Sunday? SB 75 up for Senate vote today.

Afternoon update: SB 75 has passed through the Indiana Senate by a tally of 41-9. It's on to House committee)

The Indiana Senate will vote some time this afternoon on SB 75:

"Sunday carryout by microbreweries. Allows a microbrewery to sell the brewery's beer for carryout on Sunday at the address for which the brewer's permit was issued."

I'm pleased to note that on Tuesday, New Albany's Sen. Connie Sipes was added to the bill as co-author. She has indicated support. If we make it through today's vote, the process begins anew in the House.

I've been dropping lines to the three senators closest to us here in Southern Indiana. Their e-mail links are below if you'd like to do the same. "Please vote yes on SB 75" is sufficient as a message.

District 45 - points north and east: James Lewis
District 46 - New Albany and Floyd County: Connie Sipes
District 47 - points west: Richard Young

I'll return later today and update this post with the results.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Mug Shots" today in LEO: "Beers and cigars: I say puff away," as at Steinert's tonight as Cigar Faction invades NA.

While not all intending to revisit old battlegrounds, it remains that as long as the absence of a smoking ordinance in New Albany continues to enable the proprietor's choice as it pertains to tobacco use at our food and drink establishments, there is an opportunity for those so desiring to serve as niche markets for metro Louisville cigar smokers.

We've started work on the patio at Bank Street Brewhouse to wrap it. Christo was unavailable, so we hired a contractor. Equipped with heaters, soon it will be a suitable area to enjoy a fine cigar. Of course, some pubs and restaurants still choose to allow smoking indoors.

In connection with beer, I wrote about cigars today in LEO: Mug Shots: Beers and cigars: I say puff away.

Like better beer, my cigar is a force that unites geography, history, agriculture and scientific progress, burning ever so slowly, emitting puffy smoke rings — the fruition of a long, patient process of growth, cultivation, harvesting, curing, hand rolling, packing and distribution.

Better yet, there's an opportunity tonight to patronize a downtown business, enjoy an adult beverage, and snip the end of a Dominican.

Cigar Faction - January 2010
@ Steinert’s Grill & Pub on Main Street in New Albany

Cigar Faction is looking for a places in Metro Louisville to enjoy cigars and craft beer. Steinert's Grill and Pub in downtown New Albany is one of them: Spacious, well-ventilated, a cigar-friendly staff, good food, good beer, and a well-stocked bar. NABC's Mt. Lee (California Common in the City of Angels) will be on tap, and J. Shepherd of Louisville will have cigars available for purchase with door prize drawings every half hour beginning at 6:30.

So, who's in? I should be there by 6:30 p.m., following the UEA board meeting, and am saving a wondeful Ashton for the occasion.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Ms. Elector in Indy.


Tonight: NABC Solidarity at Cafe Lou Lou (Douglass Loop).

In a previous Louisvillian's stolid existence, it might well have been impossible to imagine New Albanians having the audacity to bring Solidarity to The Highlands, but we now live in a global age, where even crossing the Ohio is not only possible, but desired -- in both directions.

Tonight, NABC's Solidarity (Baltic Porter) comes to Cafe Lou Lou's Douglass Loop location. There's a Facebook page with more information on the tapping, food specials and party tricks planned by John Campbell, NABC's brand manager.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Four courses and Old Lightning Rod: Ben Franklin would've been proud.


We met friends at Bank Street Brewhouse yesterday afternoon for pints of this year's Old Lightning Rod and the chance to partake of Chef Josh Lehman's four-course menu for Benjamin Franklin's birthday. Pictured above is turkey breast, with corn cake, applewood smoked bacon and cranberries, which followed soup, salad and potato cake, capping off a scale-tipping, Epicurean weekend for the Publican.

It is my understanding that patio wrapping will commence some time this week. Doing so will yield a protected, heated outdoor area as we navigate through the remaining cold weather months.

Recap: Photos tell the story of the Brendan's/NABC Brunch (Saturday, January 16).







We'll be doing this again, probably in April. Here's the preview, published previously here: This Saturday, January 16: Beer Brunch at Brendan's, with NABC beers.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Swan Dive lauded in today's C-J.

The Swan Dive is reviewed by Marty Rosen in today's Courier-Journal.
These days, The Swan Dive has an underground cachet that lures troglodytic hipsters with Tuesday night old-timey jam sessions, concerts of experimental jazz and rock, the most eclectic recorded soundtrack in the city, a shuffleboard game (free of charge!) and a beer list that includes Hopslam and NABC's Conesmoker on tap, and bottles that veer from PBR to Ommegang Three Philosophers.

The Swan Dive's short menu is strictly vegetarian (with vegan adaptations), and largely based on products made by Field Roast Grain Meat Co., which specializes in artisanal faux-meat products.
Congratulations to the Swan Dive for recognition of its uniqueness in vegetarian/vegan cuisine, and a fine beer list, too.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Round One to craft brewers in Indiana: SB 75 passes in committee.

Previously at NA Confidential: “It’s a tourism issue and it’s a specialty item and it’s a true art.”

I intended to comment on SB 75 earlier, did so to some degree during a discussion of Election Day sales legislation, but didn't finish my thoughts. So ...

SB 75 passed in Indiana Senate committee on Wednesday afternoon, with a vote of 9-2. Senators Zakas and Delph dissented, the latter appending a statement of principle to his "nay", but with the former, who did not speak his mind on the bill, remaining silent. Sorry, but I find it hard to respect silence.

Interestingly, during my brief testimony before the committee, Senator Waltz (he voted "yes") jokingly asked me: "Have you at any time, or are you now, a Hoosier Beer Geek?" I responded in the affirmative, and wished I'd worn my "These Machines Kill Fascists" shirt, or at least brought a facsimile of Woody Guthrie's guitar. I have a feeling that neither Delph nor Zakas would have appreciated it, and that fact makes me almost as happy as Imperial Stout on a sub-zero afternoon.

My brief comments were restricted to elaborating on the joys of watching Hoosier tax revenue travel to Kentucky for deposit each and every Sunday of my working career, and seeing micros in Kentucky sell growlers on a day that we cannot.

Fear not: The Brewers of Indiana Guild made a strong case for relief based on parity with craft wineries (which can sell wine to go on Sunday), the artisanal nature of craft beer, the local impact of small business, the integral part that we've played in various downtown revivals, and the fact that tourism for the sake of craft beer is not a laughing matter at all. Among others, Senator Taylor noted that his mind had been changed by the strength of the presentation, and although Bud Light's still good enough for him, he can see the point and agrees with it.

That's good, because we're going to need both strong argumentation and a measure of plain good luck. In essence, we must sidestep the mega-lobbyists' current battle royale over the issue of Sunday carry-out sales in general, as it pertains to package stores, groceries and other macro-entities, and keep the topic restricted to microbrewing in particular, and our special position as artisans. As a guild, we don't have dogs in those fights, and we need to keep it that way.

Senators Simpson and Alting are powerful advocates of common sense, but they have rightly vowed to kill our bill if outside interests hijack it with amendments. There's no benefit to anyone hijacking it, but then again, politics isn't about logic. Conceivably, any grandstanding moralist in the Senate could amend the bill, and if a procedural appeal to remove the amendment is rejected, succeed in maneuvering us into keeping our word and removing it sans a vote on the actual merits.

Will that happen? As Frank Zappa once said, "I figure the odds be 50/50."

If SB 75 makes it through the Senate next week, the process begins anew in the House with another bill, another hearing, another vote, and if all that comes down, a reconciliation of the two. I may have the order of movement wrong, but it shows that we've only just begun the process.

On the local front, both Connie Sipes (Senate) and Ed Clere (House) have indicated support. I appreciate that, and I'm sure that Professor Erika does not, although I can promise local teabaggers (and fleabaggers) that Sunday growler sales will not lead to new TIF areas or to any reason why Steve Price might start drinking better beer.

The coverage of the committee hearing on Indianapolis' WISH-8 is fairly good, and can be viewed and read here.

Recap: Will's and Roger's excellent beer and cheese pairing adventure.

First, Will "Lotsa Pasta Cheesemonger" Eaves and I met at the Public House to do the necessary research for our beer and cheese pairing, which took place earlier this week at Campbell's Gourmet Cottage in Louisville.

Having made the pairings, and now on site, Will had the tough job of prepping and arranging the nine cheeses. I had a cooler filled with beer, and a bottle opener. However, I was briefly useful and filled the baskets with crackers and bread.

Here is Will at work, as conveyed by the classroom monitors. The tasting went wonderfully, and we had a group of 16 in attendance. Owing to availability, a few changes were made, and these are reflected below.

EIGHT CHEESE AND BEER PAIRINGS

Delice de Bourgogne / rich and decadent triple cream cheese
Maredsous 10/ effervescent and deceptively strong Tripel from Belgium – Tripel, with triple cream cheese

Caciotta Dolce (goat cheese) / locally made semi-hard cheese from Sapori d'Italia, paired with peach and coriander jam
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale / made distinctively “American” by the liberal use of citrusy west coast Cascade hops

Cahill’s Farm Porter Aged Cheddar / Irish cheddar marbled with Porter beer
NABC Bob’s Old 15-B Porter / the style of dark ale that begat Irish stout, with notes of roast, chocolate and coffee

Widmer Farms Aged Brick / classic American washed rind cheese
Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen / beechwood smoked amber lager from Bavaria

Epoisses / THE stinky French masterpiece
NABC Hoptimus / double strength India Pale Ale, brewed with 4 additions of bitter Nugget hops and citrusy Cascade to finish

Grand Cru Gruyere Surchoix / Wisconsin's excellent take on the Swiss classic
Saison Dupont / hoppy, peppery farmhouse golden ale from the French-speaking Belgian province of Hainaut

Chimay Fromage Bier / Belgian monastic cheese, washed in the monastery’s own Trappist ale
Chimay Premiere (red label) / classic Belgian monastic amber ale, certified Trappist

Moody Blue / light blue cheese smoked with sweet fruit woods
Kloster Ettaler Doppelbock / sturdy Bavarian dark lager originally formulated by monks as a dietary supplement for Lent

BONUS PAIRING

Red Dragon / Welsh cheddar laden with strong English mustard … "the dragon bites you back"
Cantillon Gueuze Lambic / THE funky Belgian masterpiece, naturally fermented with wild yeast

Original posting: Will's and Roger's excellent beer and cheese pairing adventure at Campbell's Gourmet Cottage, Monday, January 11.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Powdered wig optional: Chef Josh's menu for Sunday's Old Lightning Rod release.

Previously, I previewed NABC's fifth batch of Old Lightning Rod, which will be unveiled at Bank Street Brewhouse on Sunday, January 17.

Now, with a grateful nod to Michael Burp, Louisville's finest brewery newsletter writer, editor and web site maestro, here is the menu to accompany Old Lightning Rod, as conjured by Bank Street's Chef Josh Lehman. As an added attraction, Bank Street's soon-to-be-famous, create-your-own Bloody Mary bar will be in service this (and every) Sunday.

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Chef Josh has planned a special menu for the debut of Old Lightning Rod 2010, taking into account Franklin's own favorites, native American foods he advocated for while serving in posts in France and England and foreign staples he was instrumental in introducing here at home:

Corn Soup, served with Tarragon and Parmesan Crisp

"Indian corn, take it for all in all, is one of the most agreeable and wholesome grains in the world."

Franklin was a partisan of foods native to the New World and an advocate for their use at home and abroad. The quote above is part of his response to one of the critics of the now ubiquitous American grain. Franklin searched several years for a usable recipe for Parmesan, before finally finding one.

Apple and Tofu Salad with Toasted Pistachios, Shallots, Ginseng and Soy Vin

“We have the Pleasure of acquainting the World, that the famous Chinese or Tartarian Plant, called Gin seng, is now discovered in this Province, near Sasquehannah ... The Virtues ascrib’d to this Plant are wonderful.”

Franklin kept his own advice when it came to the Apple, imploring his wife Deborah to keep him provisioned when he was posted overseas. It seems Franklin himself may have introduced Tofu to the Colonies, its first known mention in an American text being a description of its manufacture he sent from London in 1770 to a friend in Philadelphia. His report on the discovery of Ginseng in Pennsylvania appeared in an issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette from 1738.

Potatoes Anna, a layered Potato Cake with Bacon, Onions and Crème Fraiche

Though it would eventually become a European as well as an American staple and be credited with reducing the incidence of famine in the Old World, the Potato was slow to gain popularity on both continents. At Franklin's urging, French pharmacist Antoine Augustin Parmentier held a banquet in Paris with the Potato figuring in every dish - including dessert. Franklin's promotion of the Potato at home upon his return has been credited with popularizing it here as well.

Turkey Breast, with Corn Cake, Applewood Smoked Bacon and Cranberries

Franklin would have preferred the Turkey to the Bald Eagle as an emblem for his country, finding it a truly "more respectable Bird and withal a true Native of America", one that was, "though a little vain and silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on.”

As with the Apple, Cranberries were a favorite of Franklin's and it again fell to his wife Deborah to dutifully ship him the occasional barrel when he was away.

Office Hours with the Publican?

I've been thinking about a new weekly feature at the Pizzeria & Public House, to be called "Office Hours with the Publican."

On Monday evenings, for at least an hour, I'd conduct a themed beer tasting and discussion. The sessions would take place in the Prost area, and topics would vary, probably fairly wildly, with the idea being a weekly beer class without a formal syllabus. This way, there's no organized progression toward a goal, just the fun of learning something each week. Some topics will be known in advance and posted. Other times, it'll be dealer's choice, and we'll be bound only by the availability of beer samples.

Examples off the top of my head:

Pilsners That Don't Suck
Let's Sample Some Vintage Stone Brewing Co. Beers
Style In Depth: Porter
How We Arrived at Bonfire of the Valkyries

And so on. There'd be no formal structure to attending Office Hours. You'd be charged a nominal fee (circa $10, sometimes more depending on the beers we drink) to pay for samples and a server on duty, and you could drink and dine on your dime during the session and after it. If I couldn't be there, I'd arrange for a substitute carnival barker.

Any thoughts?

Would you come just once a month to something like this?

Steve Coomes now blogging at LouisvilleMojo.com, and that's good.

Damn. First Rick Redding moved, and now Steve Coomes. Now I have to update my Mojo password and get back in the habit of checking in there.


I wanted everyone to know that as of today, I’m will be blogging regularly for LouisvilleMojo.com’s dining pages, a move that necessitated my departure from my role as The Courier-Journal’s Dish columnist after nearly two years.

If you're interested in local food and drink, you'll need to read what Steve will be writing at Mojo -- simple as that.

In fact, in his very first Mojo blog, Steve states open disagreement (not personally, in general terms) with the Curmudgeon's oft-repeated, anti-chain worldview. How's that for branding ... and I'll keep reading, anyway.

Seriously: Good luck to Steve.

Readers, adjust your bookmarks.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

This Saturday, January 16: Beer Brunch at Brendan's, with NABC beers.

In November, I devoted my LEO column to beer and breakfast food pairings:

Moreover, the overarching aim in establishing food and beer pairings for breakfast is to liberate beer from its hackneyed “something ice-cold to drink after work” tradition.

I'm happy to report that Brendan's Public House (3921 Shelbyville Road in St. Matthews) is running with the beer & breakfast concept this coming Saturday, January 16, in the form of a Beer Brunch with some of NABC's beers, and I'm really excited about the possibilities even if we'll be doing it after 12.00 noon.

Gotta walk before you can run, you know.

Beer Brunch at Brendan's starts at 1:00 p.m. and will last until 3:00 p.m. The menu will consist of four courses, with three listed below and one yet to be determined. The menu thus far:

Tomatillo/Hoptimus Huevos Rancheros
Solidarity Baltic Porter Glazed Country Ham with Chipotle cheddar grits
Beaks Best Bread Pudding

Brendan's is limiting reservations at 25, with the cost being $30 for the food, beer, and stimulating conversation with NABC personnel in attendance, including me, otherwise known as The Publican. One or more of NABC's brewers will be there, too, although I can't tell you which ones at this time.

Call 502.895.1212 for reservations.

Mark your calendars for January NABC beer events.

It took an hour and a half to compile this list of events. Who says I don't work? At any rate, let's just say that the schedule is packed, and dates are continually added. For the events nearer the end of the list, there'll be supplemental information as it arrives.

Wednesday, January 13
Beak’s Best at Neil & Patty’s

@ Neil & Patty's Fireside Bar and Grill, Sellersburg
From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., NABC’s Southern Indiana sale manager Josh Hill hosts a gathering to celebrate our Beak’s Best coming on tap at Neil and Patty’s. where it joins Bob’s Old 15-B in the draft lineup.

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Thursday, January 14
IS HopSlam Best?
@ The Nachbar, Louisville

For the sake of "thoroughly scientific experimentation," The Nachbar attempts to determine whether Bell's HopSlam is best by putting it on draft alongside Founder's Double Trouble, Three Floyds Dreadnaught, NABC Hoptimus and Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA -- all in one night.

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Friday, January 15
Winterfest Beer Festival
@ Mellwood Arts Center, Louisville

"Winterfest is a benefit for Greenhill Therapy and the Eric Hall Foundation. The $30 admission includes beer, food, live music and giveaways. There will be an additional raffle available to win a cruise for two, including airfare." Follow the link to see the list of participating breweries, of which NABC is one.

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Saturday, January 16
Brewers Brunch with NABC
@ Brendan's Public House, Louisville

4-course pairing of breakfast foods with the NABC beers used to cook them, with NABC personnel in attendance. The brunch is limited to 25 people at $30 per person. Follow the link above for reservation information.

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Sunday, January 17
Old Lightning Rod Release & Benjamin Franklin's Birthday
@ NABC Bank Street Brewhouse, New Albany

Ben Franklin’s about to turn 305, and our fifth annual glimpse into the flavor profile of the 18th-century goes on tap at the Bank Street Brewhouse. Chef Josh Lehman plans a surprise special dish or two to celebrate the occasion. Noon - 9:00 p.m.

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Tuesday, January 19
NABC Solidarity Tapping Party
@ Café Lou Lou (Douglass Loop), Louisville

NABC's Baltic Porter is tapped in the relaxed ambience of Cafe Lou Lou's newest location. I'm looking at a Pasta Jambalaya pairing, but it's a big and uniformly good food menu.

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Wednesday, January 20
Cigar Faction January 2010
@ Steinert’s Grill & Pub, New Albany

Cigar Faction is looking for a places in Metro Louisvill to enjoy cigars and craft beer. Steinert's Grill and Pub in downtown New Albany is one of them: Spacious, well-ventilated, a cigar-friendly staff, good food, good beer, and a well-stocked bar. NABC's Mt. Lee (California Common in the City of Angels) will be on tap, and J. Shepherd of Louisville will have cigars available for purchase with door prize drawings every half hour beginning at 6:30.

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Thursday, January 21 and Friday, January 22
C1 Indiana Release Nights at NABC
@ NABC Bank Street Brewhouse/NABC Pizzeria & Public House, New Albany

The Indiana debut of C1 (Oak-Aged Smoked Rye Pale Ale), brewed collaboratively by Schlafly, O’Fallon’s and NABC, begins at Bank Street Brewhouse with the only cask-conditioned firkin of C1, which will be tapped at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday the 21st. On Friday the 22nd, kegged C1 goes on tap at the Pizzeria & Public House. There are three kegs for the Pizzeria & Public House, a firkin and a keg for Bank Street ... and then it's gone.

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Monday, January 25
Hoptimus vs. HopSlam: A Heavyweight Bout
@ NABC Pizzeria & Public House, New Albany

It's a simple proposition: Try a portion of each, and vote for the best. We want you to be honest! It isn't who wins or loses ... it's about the hops in each.

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Tuesday, January 26
C1 Comes to Louisville
@ Flanagan’s Ale House, Louisville

It's the Louisville release of C1.

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Friday, January 29
C1 and Live Music at KY BBQ
@ Kentucky BBQ Company, Louisville

A keg of C1 and live music at Kentucky BBQ Co. on Frankfort Avenue. Music TBA.

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Saturday, January 30
Indiana Microbrewers Winterfest
@ Indiana State Fairgrounds, Indianapolis, Indiana

The second edition of the Brewers of Indiana Guild's cold-weather gathering will feature 200 different beers from 29 Indiana breweries, including a heated outdoor firkin garden. Also: Food, music, games and a Hoosier breweriana exhibit. Follow the link to buy tickets on-line; they're $30 for the usual sampling privileges, and are expected to sell out long before the event occurs.

NABC's fifth batch of Old Lightning Rod to be unveiled at Bank Street Brewhouse on Sunday, January 17.

NABC unveiled its first version of Poor Richard's "Old Lightning Rod" on January 17, 2006. It was Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday, and more than 100 breweries nationwide joined the celebration by brewing a colonial-era Old Ale recipe based on an award-winning formulation.

Ben's about to be 305, and our fifth annual glimpse into the flavor profile of the 18th-century goes on tap at the Bank Street Brewhouse on Sunday, January 17. Chef Josh Lehman plans a special dish or two to celebrate the occasion.

Owing primarily to the opportunities to educate, this has become one of my favorite seasonal unveilings. Here's the story of how all this came about, as first told here in January, 2006:


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It wasn’t enough that Benjamin Franklin was a writer, inventor, businessman, statesman, patriot and all-purpose wit.

The creative Colonial-era legend somehow found time to drink beer, too.

In his writings, Franklin refers to the consumption of ale and describes various types of the fermented beverage, concluding that it was a healthy drink if consumed in moderation – an observation with which modern medical science concurs.

Even a teetotaler might be curious as to what these ales of old were like and how they were brewed, but unfortunately, substantive information is scant.

When the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary, a non-profit group formed to organize the celebration for Franklin’s 300th birthday on January 17, 2006, began looking for an answer to this question, they found it by teaming with the Brewers Association, which commissioned a competition among professional brewers to formulate a Poor Richard’s Ale named for the famous Almanac.

Tony Simmons of Brick Oven Brewing produced the winning recipe, chosen by a panel of experts at the 2005 Great American Beer Festival. According to Simmons, his act of historical recreation was determined by the following factors:

Style ... Based on Franklin’s own writings, other period references and records of available raw materials, it is likely that he often drank tankards of a libation similar to Old Ale (England) or Strong Scotch Ale (Scotland).

Malt … “Low” (pale malt, similar to today’s Maris Otter or English floor malt) and “High” (darker malt, perhaps approximating a combination of what we now call Biscuit, Special Roast and Black) malts probably were used.

Adjuncts … During the Colonial era, imported malt was expensive and local barley crops were unpredictable, so the use of cracked maize and molasses in brewing was common.

Hops … Hop production in America did not begin in earnest until after Franklin’s passing, making it likely that traditional East Kent Goldings imported from England were the hops of choice.

Yeast … Not until the mid-19th century did modern scientific techniques unravel the mysteries of yeast, so it’s impossible to know very much about 18th-century yeast management. Simmons suggests that contemporary English or Scottish strains of yeast (low to moderate attenuation) will suffice to replicate Colonial fermentations.

The Brewers Association asked member breweries nationwide to join in the celebration of Benjamin Franklin’s 300th birthday by brewing a special batch of Poor Richard’s Ale and having it ready for serving on January 17, 2006.

The New Albanian Brewing Company's brewers, Jesse Williams and Jared Williamson, followed the broad contours of Simmons's recipe, adding a few touches of their own like extra finishing hops and oak chips to add wooden barrel-conditioned character. They also suggested an alternative name, "Old Lightning Rod," which we've duly incorporated to identify the finished product.

The finished product is malty and on the sweet side, both expected owing to low hopping and the use of molasses and corn.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka.

Just before Christmas, there was a shindig at the new Wick’s Pizza location in New Albany (above; photo by Mike Kopp).

Golfing great Fuzzy Zoeller, a native New Albanian who now competes professionally on the Champions Tour (formerly the Senior PGA Tour), came to Wick’s and spent the evening bartending in a promotion to tout his new brand of vodka.

It’s called Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka.

Although Fuzzy was involved with creating the vodka that bears his name, and it's difficult to imagine John Daly not being along for at least a part of the research and development process, he does not own the distillery that produces it. Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka is an example of what is known as a private label spirit, one commissioned by a marketing company created for the purpose. One on-line spirits rating site ventures the guess that a distillery based in Oregon is the source.

According to this and other accounts, Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka is distinctive for being filtered ten times and aged in oak. It’s certainly an attractive package, and a fascinating brand extension that begs the question: How many professional athletes in general, and golfers in particular, have put their names on a beer, wine or spirit? There can't be very many.

In case you’re wondering, I’ve only met Fuzzy Zoeller once, and I’m fairly sure he would not remember the occasion. In 1979, Fuzzy won the Masters in his first appearance in Augusta (only two other golfers have done it), and in 1984, he scored another major with a win in the U.S. Open, after which the city of New Albany staged a parade in honor of its hometown boy made good.

A parade ran down Spring Street, ending around the corner from my nighttime employer at the time, Scoreboard Liquors. Surprisingly, a few minutes after the celebration ended, into the store came the honoree, who asked me to fetch a cold case of Miller Lite in cans.

This anecdote has nothing to do with Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka, and little to do with beer. Perhaps there’ll come a day when the vodka is made at a distillery right here in New Albany. Until then, it's at Wick's, and also at the Knights of Columbus on Main Street in downtown New Albany, which Tom Zoeller is working hard to put back on the map.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

“It’s a tourism issue and it’s a specialty item and it’s a true art.”

Yes, yes ... and yes.

By way of the C-J, the Associated Press surveys the Indiana legislature’s progress toward alcohol law changes. One in particular would impact my brewing business.
The study committee also voted against allowing microbreweries — smaller establishments that have limits on how much beer they can make each year — to sell their beer for takeout on Sundays.

But Republican Sen. Ron Alting of Lafayette, chairman of the Senate Public Policy Committee, has filed a bill that would allow such sales. He plans to give it a hearing before his panel.

Alting noted that farm wineries in Indiana are allowed to sell their products for takeout on Sundays and said microbreweries should have the same privilege.

“It’s a tourism issue and it’s a specialty item and it’s a true art,” Alting said.
I've never met Sen. Alting, but his quote above eloquently summarizes why there is no logical reason for using different sets of rules for small wineries and small breweries. Furthermore, rules governing artisanal production of beer and wine are not cut from the same cloth as those governing package store and othe retail Sunday sales.

The Indiana legislature has the opportunity in 2010 to balance this particular playing field, and NABC will have a team on the ground in Indianapolis this Wednesday to join the Brewers of Indiana Guild at the statehouse to meet elected officials and make the point in person. If you agree with me -- in fact, even if you don't -- please contact Rep. Ed Clere and Sen. Connie Sipes and let them know.

Preview: Gravity Head 2010, beginning Friday, February 26.

Here’s a glimpse of our progress in procurements for Gravity Head 2010, which begins on Friday, February 25, and which will be the 12th edition of the spectacle.

Work is underway on this year’s theme and graphics. All I can tell you is that Sir Isaac Newton is involved, along with an existential exploration of gravity and its consequences.

Continuing last year’s organizational conceit of grouping Gravity Head listed selections according to style, I’ve elected to begin with verbatim style categories from Beer Advocate. This doesn’t mean that I personally agree with each and every one of Beer Advocates decisions with respect to style and placement of individual beers in categories. In fact, some are downright strange to me (Red & White as Witbier?), so please tell me what you think, and whether you agree or disagree with Beer Advocate’s style designations and decisions.

To be honest, I’m doing it this way because it’s easier for me to get the ball rolling without making editorial decisions from the outset. The majority of these kegs already are in stock, with a handful of them ordered and not yet delivered. There might yet be a few additions, so view these as provisional. Finally, I'll add NABC's contingent later. Count on vintage Thunderfoot. Beyond that, we'll see.

AMERICAN AMBER / RED LAGER

Coney Island Human Blockhead
American Amber/Red Lager … 10% abv

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AMERICAN BARLEYWINE

Avery Hog Heaven Barley Wine
American Barleywine … 9.2%

Boulder Killer Penguin Barleywine
American Barleywine … 10%

Dogfish Head Olde School Barley Wine
American Barleywine … 15.04%

Left Hand Oaked Aged Widdershins
American Barleywine … 8.8%

Rogue Old Crustacean 2004
American Barleywine … 11.5%

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot Barleywine Style Ale 2004
American Barleywine … 9.6%

Stone Old Guardian 2009
American Barleywine … 11.3%

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AMERICAN BROWN ALE

Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
American Brown Ale … 12%

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AMERICAN DOUBLE / IMPERIAL IPA

Bell’s HopSlam
American Double/Imperial IPA … 10%

Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA
American Double/Imperial IPA … 18%

Founders Double Trouble
American Double / Imperial IPA … 9.4%

Founders Hand of Doom
American Double/Imperial IPA … 10.4%

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AMERICAN DOUBLE / IMPERIAL STOUT

Brasserie Des Franches-Montagnes (BFM) Jurassian Imperial Stout (Cuvée Alex Le Rouge)
American Double / Imperial Stout … 10.28%

Founders Breakfast Stout 2008
American Double / Imperial Stout … 8.3%

Founders Canadian Breakfast
American Double / Imperial Stout … 9.4%

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AMERICAN PORTER

Two Brothers Red Eye Coffee Porter
American Porter … 9.2%

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AMERICAN STRONG ALE

Mad River Serious Madness
American Strong Ale … 8.6%

NABC V – 5th Anniversary Ale 2007
American Strong Ale … 10%

New Holland Dragon’s Milk
Amrican Strong Ale … 10%

Rogue Double Dead Guy Ale
American Strong Ale … 9%

Shmaltz He’Brew Jewbelation Bar Mitzvah (13)
American Strong Ale … 13%

Sierra Nevada Life & Limb
American Strong Ale … 10.2%

Sun King Cream Dream (Imperial Cream)
American Strong Ale … Circa 8.5%

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BALTIC PORTER

BBC (St. Matthews) Kick in the Baltic Porter 2009
Baltic Porter … 8.9%

Rogue Imperial Porter 2008
Baltic Porter … 8.2%

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BELGIAN IPA

Brugge Brasserie Artemis 2IPA
Belgian IPA … 9.5%

NABC Oaked Le Douche Mentale (firkin)
Belgian IPA … 8.5%

Regenboog t’Smisje + (Plus)
Belgian IPA … 10%

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BELGIAN STRONG DARK ALE

Alvinne Balthazar
Belgian Strong Dark Ale … 9%

De Dolle Stille Nacht
Belgian Strong Dark Ale … 12% abv

Stone 09.09.09 Vertical Epic Ale
Belgian Strong Dark Ale … 8.6%

Van Steenberge Klokke Roeland
Belgian Strong Dark Ale … 11%

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BELGIAN STRONG PALE ALE

Baladin Elixir (Al-Iksir)
Belgian Strong Pale Ale … 10%

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BIERE DE GARDE

Brasserie Des Franches-Montagnes (BFM) Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien 2007
Biere de Garde … 11%

Brasserie Des Franches-Montagnes (BFM) Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien 2008
Biere de Garde … 11%

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DOPPELBOCK

Ettaler Curator Doppelbock (special enhanced export version)
Doppelbock … circa 11%

Samichlaus Bier Helles
Doppelbock … 14%

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DUBBEL

Regenboog t’Smisje Dubbel
Dubbel … 9%

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EISBOCK

Kulmbacher Reichelbräu Eisbock
Eisbock … 9.2%

Schneider Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock (wooden gravity cask)
Eisbock … 12%

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ENGLISH BARLEYWINE

JW Lees Vintage Harvest Ale 2008
English Barleywine … 11.5%

Pausa Cafè Tosta
English Barleywine … 12.5%

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FOREIGN / EXPORT STOUT

Regenboog t'Smisje Catherine the Great
Foreign / Export Stout ... 10%

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OLD ALE

BBC Brandy Barrel Queen’s Knickers
Old Ale … 12%

Founders Curmudgeon
Old Ale … 9.3%

Harviestoun Ola Dubh Special 18 Reserve 2008
Old Ale … 8%

NABC Malcolm’s Old Setters’ Ale 2007
Old Ale … 12%

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RAUCHBIER

Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche
Rauchbier ... 8%

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QUADRUPEL

Avery “The Reverend”
Quadrupel … 10%

Schlafly Quadrupel
Quadrupel … 12%

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RUSSIAN IMPERIAL STOUT

Alvinne Podge Belgian Imperial Stout
Russian Imperial Stout … 10.5%

Founders Imperial Stout 08
Russian Imperial Stout … 10.5%

Great Divide Oak Aged Yeti Imperial Stout
Russian Imperial Stout … 9.5%

NABC ThunderFoot 2009
Russian Imperial Stout … 11%

Schlafly Reserve – (Barrel Aged) Imperial Stout
Russian Imperial Stout ... 10.5%

Stone Imperial Russian Stout 2008
Russian Imperial Stout … 10.5%

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SCOTCH ALE / WEE HEAVY

Founders Backwoods Bastard
Scotch Ale / Wee Heavy … 10.2%

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WITBIER

Dogfish Head Red & White
Witbier … 10%

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Weekend potpourri: NABCieged, beer education, Bonfire & Chorizo, Pungent & Funky, and pairing cheese with beer.

NABCieged is underway at the Pizzeria & Public House, with a surprise tapping last night of Thunderfoot perhaps serving as the major highlight of the evening. Thanks to Jared Williamson for burrowing into #3 for the Foot, and managing to have 24 NABC beers pouring all at once.

At my other blog, there's a timely update of "Here's to Beer," two non-credit courses from Indiana University Southeast, including registration information.

My weekend Bank Street Brewhouse recomendation: Bonfire of the Valkyries, NABC's Rauch/Schwarzbier (smoked/black), with Chef Josh's Chorizo Hash.

On the topic of food, tonight is the annual FOSSILS Pungent & Funky Appetizer Competition, held in the Prost wing of the Public Hosue at 3312 Plaza Drive in New Albany. Want to know something else? FOSSILS turns 20 this coming September. Where have all the years and liver cells gone?

Finally, a tip for Monday night: Will's and Roger's excellent beer and cheese pairing adventure at Campbell's Gourmet Cottage, Monday, January 11.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Will's and Roger's excellent beer and cheese pairing adventure at Campbell's Gourmet Cottage, Monday, January 11.

On Monday, January 11, Campbell's Gourmet Cottage is pairing the Cheesemonger with the Publican for an educational evening of cheese, beer and banter.

Louisville-area cheese guru Will Eaves will join me at 6:30 p.m. for a nourishing and instructive journey through our respective genres. The cost is $45, and for more details and on-line registration, you can visit the Campbell's web site.

Following are the bare bones, as Will and I outlined last week after a fine evening session of research at the Public House. He's working on extended cheese descriptions, and I'm doing the same for the beers. With luck, I'll have the expanded version ready tomorrow.

EIGHT CHEESE AND BEER PAIRINGS

Delice de Bourgogne
Duvel

Sapori Dolce (goat cheese)
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

Cahill’s Farm Porter Aged Cheddar
NABC Bob’s Old 15-B Porter

Widmer Farms Aged Brick
Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen

Petit Frere OR Epoisses
NABC Hoptimus

Grand Cru Gruyere Surchoix
Saison Dupont

Chimay Fromage Trappiste
Chimay Premiere (red label)

Moody Blue
Weihenstephaner Korbinian Doppelbock

BONUS PAIRING

Red Dragon
Vintage Gueuze Lambic (brand to be named)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Café Abseits in Bamberg.

I have no excuse, plausible or otherwise, for having traveled to Bamberg so many times before without once setting foot in the Café Abseits, at least until Monday, December 21, 2009, which at long last marked my first foray into this comfortable and friendly specialty beer bar.

Like another, eerily similar place close to my heart, the NABC Public House, Abseits began life more than a quarter-century ago as a student hangout, steadily evolving into the beer lover's haunt while retaining its convivial, Bohemian character.

Perhaps the café’s location (Pödeldorfer Straase 39) always threw me, but never again. Like the Weyermann malting firm, Abseits is on the east side of the train station, and because there isn’t a direct eastern exit under or over the tracks, getting to either one of them requires leaving the station, turning right or left, and doubling back. At the same time, Bamberg’s historic inner city, tourist attractions, nine breweries and numerous taverns lie to the west, and it's the easiest thing in the world to walk right down the street in front of the station and keep going until you reach the front door at Schlenkerla.

There were two further investigative visits to Abseits during my most recent Franconian idyll in December, 2009, and there’ll be even more in the future as I continue to cope with my profound embarrassment at having unfairly neglected this wonderful institution for so long.

In the end, it's true that I’ve only hurt myself.

Oddly enough, it was basketball as much as beer that finally brought the Publican and Café Abseits together. During the planning stages of our trip, the Café Abseits’ owner, Gerhard Schoolman, fortuitously popped up on the Franconian Beer Message Board to answer one of my questions.

As the chat progressed, it transpired that not only is Gerhard a rabid basketball fan in a city that prides itself on its hoops tradition, but also that tickets for the Brose Baskets, Bamberg’s entry in the top German round ball league, were available from the Café Abseits as part of an annual promotion of the team. Gerhard held two tickets back for us to pick up the day before the game against Paderborn, and the rest is belated history.

As an aside, the Jako Arena serves local beer from Eschenbach, a few clicks down the road to the northwest of Bamberg, and also provides previously unseen concessions delicacies like the Leberkäse Wrap, which combines the old (bologna-like meat loaf) and the new (flat bread) in hand-held form.

However, it’s always about the beer, and Café Abseits offers a distinctive interpretation of the classic specialist bar’s theme of a small, well-chosen beer list. The emphasis at Abseits is on local and regional beers from the brewery-rich Franconian hills and valleys in and around Bamberg. Four drafts are constant and another rotates seasonally (Mönchsambacher Weihnachtsbock during my visit), but it’s the bottle list that really shines.

30-35 bottled selections are constant, grouped in categories that reflect the Franconian brewing tradition: Kellerbier, Rauchbier, Dark Lager, Weizen and (I think) Helles/Pils. The only foreign beer I recall seeing on the list is Guinness Extra Stout, and only a handful come from elsewhere in Bavaria (beers from Kloster Weltenburg, Schneider and Andechs prime among them).

Better yet is the seasonal rotating (monthly) bottle list. In December, 2009, it featured six regional Bocks for the holiday season, which in most cases translates into Pale/Helles Bock, blonde, rich and malty, and ideal for the cold weather. Personal favorites were Hummel-Bräu Leonhardi-Bock and Nankendorfer Schroll-Bräu Bock, the latter far more along the lines of Doppelbock.

The food at Café Abseits reflects diverse origins, with a weekly special menu, breakfast items, Tex-Mex, wings, a touch of curry and Asian influences here and there. Excellent pizza is served in the evening, beginning at 6:30 p.m. In short, it’s broader and better than the usual pub grub, and provides a welcome contrast to the heavy, pork-laden fare at Bamberg’s historic watering holes – cuisine that I dearly love, but can happily step away from every now and then. Apart from beer, there are coffees, teas, liquors and wines.

I made a final stop at Café Abseits just before its 2:00 p.m. closing time on New Year’s Eve, not to eat lunch, but to cap a brisk stroll from Altstadt with two of the seasonal Bocks. Glancing around the intimate confines, I saw that each of the ten or so persons present looked to be drinking a different beer. There were glass half-liters, stoneware mugs and tall wheat beer glasses, and shades of liquid ranging from blonde to reddish-brown to black.

After a bit, a strangely long shadow descended over my bar seat as a customer came forward to sign his tab. The gals behind the bar had been visibly fawning over him, but I thought nothing of it until he stood and blocked the ceiling lamp. It was Tibor Pleiss, the 7’ 1” starting center for the Brose Baskets, also a member of the German national team, who had returned from a road win against Trier the night before to drop by Abseits and polish off a huge bowl of spaghetti and a fruit drink (not beer).

No autograph requests from me, just admiration for a “good beer bar” that accommodates both Brose Baskets and Bocks. Very, very nice.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

C1 ... Oak-aged Smoked Rye Pale Ale ... on tap at Schlafly Tap Room in St. Louis.

I'm envious!

And thirsty!

That's more exclamation marks than I've used in years!

NABC's allotment of the collaboration ale will be headed this way soon. I'm under the impression that we'll have four kegs for our two establishments, and that a wee bit will be poured at the forthcoming Indiana Microbrewers Winterfest in Indianapolis on January 30.

NABC's Jared Williamson has tasted the finished product, and he's enthused. So am I. "Pumped" just doesn't do it justice.

(Graphic cribbed from Schlafly)

"Mug Shots" today in LEO: "When you gotta go ... "

Doesn't everyone don a coat before leaving the barroom to take a leak?

Mug Shots: When you gotta go ...

It may have been Archie Bunker who observed, “You don’t buy beer, you rent it,” and your humble columnist has gleaned a fair amount of experience in such matters in his career as a professional beer drinker, most recently while enjoying a Christmas holiday in Bamberg, Germany.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Three Floyds Night at Rocky's on Wednesday, January 13.

Measure it any way you wish, but the fact remains that Three Floyds is Indiana's pre-eminent craft brewer, and none of us will be arguing the point any time soon.

In national terms, to have beers from Three Floyds mentioned in the same breath as the word "Indiana" is of inestimable value to all of us in the Hoosier State who are engaged in carving out our own little craft perimeters from the bloated carcass of industrial swill. It doesn't matter how far apart Munster is from New Albany if people say, "They make good beer in Indiana."

Thanks to Nick and the crew for that. Three Floyds was merrily innovating long before it was fashionable, and deserves all the credit for doing so. The best part of all is their integrity, and the fact that Three Floyds beers remain consistently challenging and damned tasty these many years later. I'm a blatant fan, and always will be.

Back here in the Falls Cities, it's another helpful barometer of how far we've come that Rocky's Sub Pub is staging a Three Floyds Night on Wednesday, January 13. Lincoln Anderson is coming down from the frozen north to regale attendees with information, and the list is impressive. Go here to read it and glean further information.

Unfortunately, I can't be there. The Brewers of Indiana Guild is staging a legislative reception in Indianapolis, and since we have a glimmer of hope for Sunday craft brewery carry-out sales legislation during the current session, it's a session I need to attend. If we make it back down in time, I may yet join the Three Floyds madness in Jeffersonville.

You can read the proposed addition to existing legislation here.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A collaboration report.

Hoosier Beer Geek tastes it before me ... so it goes. I'll get my chance -- just wait and see.

Scenes from a Sneak Preview: Schlafly/O'Fallon/New Albanian Collaboration

N.A.B.cieged begins this Friday, January 8, at the Public House & Pizzeria.

In early December, the NABC brain trust (huh?) hatched a scheme variously intended to celebrate the arrival of a new year, deplete inventory prior to Gravity Head and tout the fact that our own house-brewed beers are taking an ever larger share of the beer sales at the original NABC Pizzeria & Pub even as they invade surrounding territories in Indiana and Kentucky.

Consequently, this one's about us -- our NABC beers being brewed in two New Albany locations, not the great ones from all over the planet that we continue to vend and enjoy, but the ones that we feel are the future of the business (and aesthetic) enterprise.

It's called N.A.B.cieged, and we ask the English majors among you to forgive the spelling. It's not a Black Eyed Peas contributor. The idea is to have as many as possible of our own NABC beers on tap at one time at the Pizzeria & Pub. The event will last as long as the kegs do, and then the remaining kegs from Saturnalia will be put on tap alongside the customary guest regulars and what has become a permanently expanded NABC repertoire.

Obviously, we're undertaking this at the Pizzeria & Public House because there are far fewer available taps at the Bank Street Brewhouse, where a dozen or so NABC beers are on tap all of the time, with no guests.

Here's more from David Pierce on the forthcoming spectacle. There'll be more comments from me as the week progresses, so stay tuned. And, given the amount of work required to swap all these kegs of beer around, say a silent prayer for Jared, Mike Bauman, Ben Minton and Eric Gray, who'll likely be doing the heavy lifting, literally.

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Watch for this celebration of the work of our own brewers - Jesse Williams, Jared Williamson and David Pierce, Director of Brewing Operations - to begin on January 8th. Our goal is an NABC beer on every tap at the NABC Public House & Pizzeria.

Jared has been holding back some treasured kegs for this special event. The final lineup is still in the works and may include a secret cask or two.


A list of strong prospects follows:

Regulars:
Abzug
Beak's Best
Bob's Old 15-B
Community Dark
Elector
Hoptimus
Kaiser 2nd Reising
Mt. Lee
Tafelbier
Tunnel Vision

Seasonals:
Anniversary Ale V., Oak Aged, '07
Anniversary Ale VII., '09
ConeSmoker
Le Douche Mental
ELI
Elsa Von Horizon
Farmhouse Saison
Jenever
Malcolm’s Old Setter's Ale, '09
Naughty Claus
Phoenix Kentucky Kommon
Solidarity '09
Sour Red
Strathpeffer
ThunderFoot '09
WeeFoot Session Stout

Possibles:
Dry Knobs
Dubbel
Nugget APA
Smoked Abzug

Artwork by Tony Beard.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

I didn't to to Bavaria for salad, you know.

Before and after views of a Nurnberg mixed grill of local signature sausages, ham, pork knuckle and duck, accompanied by a tureen of gravy, with potato dumpling, boiled potatoes, sauerkraut and sweet red cabbage to be pushed the other way toward my vegetarian spouse, are provided courtesy of my recent weight gain. This morning's YMCA visit set the gear in reverse.

I'm back from Europe. How did I know this? Yesterday afternoon it was revealed that the gate in the Cincy/Northern Kentucky airport being made ready for the final leg to Louisville was located adjacent to a Samuel Adams-themed establishment.

I had a Samuel Adams Boston Ale and a Winter Lager, both on draft, observing that both tasted pretty good.

The first three people to follow us to the bar heard the waitress explain the Sam Adams beers on tap, and opted instead for Bud Light. The fourth tried to order Blue Moon, which was unavailable, and then opted grudgingly for a Winter Lager.

Yep. Back home again, in brain-dead beer land.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

NABC Pizzeria & Pub a "pizza pick" in the Courier-Journal.

Nice words from Marty Rosen in Saturday's Louisville Courier-Journal: Four pizza picks that are sure to please.

NABC Pizzeria and Pub

The NABC Pizzeria and Pub, a component of the New Albanian Brewing Company, boasts a legendary beer list that draws connoisseurs from all over the country. There's nary a mass-market lager to be found, but if your thirsts are artisanal, there are hundreds of ways to quench it.
Also included is the Charlestown Pizza Company, which fully deserves the recognition.

I appreciate Marty's help with the ongoing process of rebranding, although if you still wish to call our Grant Line components by their Rich O's and Sportstime names, please feel free. One of my resolutions for 2010 is to be more consistent with my written references to NABC Pizzeria & Pub. We'll see how it goes.